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InterMat Rewind: Wrestling: A Boy's First Book (Online)

Mark Palmer

10/13/2010
Mark Palmer, InterMat Senior Writer
mark@intermatwrestle.com, Twitter: @MatWriter

Wrestling may be the oldest and greatest sport, but the best wrestlers and coaches aren't afraid to use the latest technology to make themselves even better.

The same could be said for William "Doc" Bauer, and his book, Wrestling: A Boy's First Book. First published in 2004 (and featured in an InterMat Rewind story in August 2009), the book was designed for parents to read to their youngsters ages 7-9 to introduce them to amateur wrestling.

The original Wrestling: A Boy's First Book was incredibly popular ... selling out its first two print editions. Now Bauer has decided to make the book available to even more parents and potential wrestlers ... by putting the book online, available absolutely free of charge, to be printed at home.

Why online?

In a recent interview, Bauer said that he wanted to update his book, and had thought about a third printing. However the cost of printing, as well as the costs of shipping the book from the printer in Canada, and then from the distributor, was huge.

"I had never really intended to make money on the book," the former wrestler and coach -- and retired educator -- disclosed in the interview for this article. "I had put the profits from the printed book into promoting it."

According to Bauer, by using the latest technology tools and putting the book online, "My intent was to eliminate some of those middle processes to reduce costs. However, the ultimate benefit is, it makes it easier for parents to get the book and share it with their kids."

You can't improve on success

The features that made Wrestling: A Boy's First Book so popular in a traditional printed book format are still part of the new print-it-yourself version. As before, the updated edition is NOT an instructional book for would-be wrestlers to read for themselves; instead, it's intended for parents to read to their children, and get them to thinking about taking up wrestling.

The book opens with two young friends -- Christopher and Michael -- watching professional wrestling on TV. Christopher's older brother Kevin -- a high school wrestler himself -- makes it clear that what the boys are watching isn't real wrestling. (In the 2009 InterMat Rewind interview, Doc Bauer said, "I thought it was important to start with pro wrestling, ‘the dark side,' because that's what so many people think of when they hear the word ‘wrestling.'")

Wrestling: A Boy's First Book follows Christopher and Michael to Kevin's wrestling practice ... and to a dual meet for Kevin's team, where they are introduced to the fundamentals of the sport, thanks to Bauer's clear explanations, as well as the color pencil drawings of noted children's book illustrator Rachel Mindrup.

Original intent

Dr. William Bauer reads Wrestling: A Boy's First Book to his son, Ken (Photo/Wrestling: A Boy's First Book)
What caused William Bauer to write the book in the first place? A former college wrestler himself, Bauer saw the value in the sport for his youngest son. However, years ago, when he took Kenny to a Pittsburgh-area wrestling program for youth, the seven-year-old was confused by what he didn't see. He asked where the ring was, why there were no punching bags. As Bauer -- a long-time educator -- put it, "He had confused wrestling with boxing ... Many 7-8 year-olds and their parents don't know what wrestling is about. It's not like baseball or football, which are so much a part of culture, everyone knows what they are, even if they never played."

Years later, Bauer came up with the idea of a book "that's a primer to wrestling, designed for parents to read to their child, rather than an instructional book aimed directly at the child."

The original goals of Wrestling: A Boy's First Book were simple: To encourage parent-child bonds through reading ... and to open up possibilities for "pushing the furniture aside and doing some hands-on demonstrations," according to the author.

As the foreword of the book states ...

... the book encourages the parent to become an active part of the learning process, by talking about what's in the book, practicing some of the moves, and even visiting a wrestling room and a high school dual meet.

To learn more about Wrestling: A Boy's First Book -- and print out the color pages to read at home -- visit the Web site http://wrestlingforkids.com.

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